"A boy and girl are tricked into using magic rings...
a beautiful and terrifying queen escapes from a dying world...
a lion - the Great Aslan - sings a new world into existance.
And so Narnia is born, and already a dark treachery threatens its future.
This is the beginning of Narnia - and a lifetime of adventures."
In the form The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes which was broadcast on the radio, Focus on the Family brings, not just a narrative, but a fully casted drama. Though you can't see this on the big screen, the actors picked to play each roll seem to be absolutely perfect. From Aslan's deep rumbing voice to the pompous, high and mighty voice of the last queen of Charn, Jadis.
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe seems to be the most popular of the Chronicles of Narnia, but when I listened to this on CD in my car it quickly became my favorite.
Digory and his mother are staying with his aunt and uncle (who are not married, but are brother and sister). While crying in his back yard (his mother is ill and dying) he meets his neighbor, Polly. They become friends and go off exploring the rafters of the townhouses in their row. On one expedition they come to a room they believed to have been deserted, only to find out it is, indeed, occupied... by none other than Digory's uncle. An uncle who fancies himself a magician.
He shows Digory and Polly two rings, yellow and green, and manages to trick Polly into putting one on. Polly vanishes. Digory puts the same color ring on and goes after Polly with the 2nd in order to bring her back to London. They find themselves in a world that is.... in between... every other world. "The wood between the worlds" they called it. Around them were several pools. Pools, they found out, that led them to other worlds when they put on their rings.
They travelled to a world called Charn. Seated at a table in a great hall they found a group of people, frozen in time. Unmoving. They found out, after Digory decided he wanted to ring a bell, that the lady at the head of the table, the most beautiful and terrifying of the bunch, was the queen of that world. Charn was dying. Ringing the bell brought the queen to life, but she was not about to stay there and watch her world literally disappear. She managed to catch hold of Digory and Polly and follow them back to the wood between the worlds. Where she also managed to grab on and hitch a ride back to London.
Being in an unfamiliar world did not scare her, however. She was determined to rule it and caused all kind of mayhem after forcing Digory's uncle to escort her around the town. When the two young ones tried to bring her back to the wood between the world, they discovered they had accidentally brought the cab that had been comandeered, the cabby, and Digory's uncle.
They attempted to deposit the queen in a different world, since the pool that had transported them to Charn had disappeared. That world was dark. Completely dark. But then they heard a song. And as they listened, stars sprang to light in the sky. The darkness disappeared. They saw grass sprout up from the ground. And trees and animals sprang to life.
They saw a lion singing that song. They were worried he was going to attack until they realized the song was coming from him. Jadis was still scared, though, and ran screaming from the group. The others stayed and watched the lion, breathe on the animals, giving them voices. One of these animals being the cabby's horse that had been transported from London.
Digory pleads with the lion, Aslan, to give him something to bring back to his mother in London to make her well. He tells Digory to go retrieve an apple from a tree through the mountains. There, Digory finds where Jadis has run off to. He also finds that she has regained much of her strength and much more of her hatred and evil. She tries to convince him to eat the apple. Not to take it back to Aslan but to keep it for himself. Digory takes the apple back to Aslan where he's told to plant it. Digory is the given fruit to take back to his mother.
The cabby is made the king of Narnia and his wife is transported in the middle of doing dishes to rule by his side as queen. Digory and Polly, along with Digory's uncle, head back to London where Digory gives his mother some of the fruit that Aslan gave him. She instantly starts to feel better and Digory is overjoyed.
He takes the seeds from the fruit and plants them in the yard. From the seeds, obviously, comes a tree. When the tree was knocked over in a huge storm, an adut Digory turns the wood from that tree into a wardrobe, and places it in his home.
My absolute favorite part of this radio show was where Aslan sang Narnia to life. It was just so beautiful. I listened to it many times. The book is beautifully written and the radio theater version is oustanding. I give it a 5 star rating out of 5 stars and recommend it to absolutely anybody. If you dont want to sit down and read it, borrow the CDs from the library. If you don't like having to give them back after you've listened to them once, you can get it for a very decent price at Amazon. Along with the other six stories in the Chronicles.